CFP: Feminist Pedagogies for Games
by: MAI , January 30, 2023
by: MAI , January 30, 2023
The games discipline in higher education is at an interesting point of early maturation with many games departments reaching 10- and 20-year milestones. While in the field at large we see great advances particularly with respect to the inclusion of feminist perspectives and methods, in the pedagogy of teaching how to make games we find a gap. With some undergraduate games programs celebrating their twenty years anniversary this year, such as at University of Skövde, Sweden, the moment is ripe for reflection and innovation for feminist pedagogies in games.
Taking inspiration from the Swedish usage of the term pedagogy, we use the concept to apply broadly across all aspects of education from the classroom to institutional and political levels, This special issue is positioned to highlight feminist teaching work that is ongoing, in progress, and envisioned for the future of the field. Just as the field has advanced both in research and practice; evidenced by the growing wealth of feminist scholarship on games (Gray, Voorhees & Vossen 2018; DePass 2018; Kocurek 2020; Sarkeesian & Cross 2015; Chess 2020; Kocurek 2016) and by the many games both digital and physical that themselves express feminist viewpoints and concepts (Dot’s Home 2021; Hair Nah 2017; #feminism 2016; Variations on Your Body 2014; Gone Home 2013; Brudpris 2013; Alfa/Omega 2012; Dys4ia 2012; Mad About the Boy 2010), so too the field is poised to advance within the classroom.
Most approaches to teaching the practice of game development at the undergraduate level (and below) have not tended to bring critical approaches such as those afforded by feminism into the classroom. Examples of these kinds of commonly used textbooks include: Salen & Zimmerman (2003), Schell (2008), Fullerton (2014), and others. And so the lack of textbooks or commonly used teaching texts that present game design from a feminist standpoint means that the games classroom is a kind of ‘untouched’ space, including therefore both problems and exciting potential. The dominant method of teaching of games is focused on skills and tends to adopt and foster an ‘apolitical’ stance towards games, a problematic stance that comes as a legacy inherited from parent disciplines like computer science (Malazita & Resetar 2018; Corron & Rouse 2022). Yet, this purported neutrality is still a political stance that habituates students to neoliberal and individualistic mindsets. These dominant structures have power, and even in the case of teachers who want to apply feminist pedagogies in games, the learning curve presents a high obstacle to really know how to implement these things. While there are resources on applied feminist pedagogies in general (see Paechter 2002, for example), there has less publication thus far that is specific to feminist pedagogies for games, with some exceptions (see Rouse & Youmans 2022).
What do we mean by ‘feminist pedagogies’ and ‘feminism’ in education? While feminist philosophy broadly originated in women’s rights movements, it has grown to encompass movements for social justice at the intersections of several dimensions of human experience such as gender, class, race, ethnicity, nationality, ability, and sexual orientation (Ahmed 2017). In the domain of education, feminist pedagogies critically engage with the inequities and injustices faced by students, teachers, administrators, and other people within or affected by educational institutions, particularly those belonging to historically and systemically marginalised communities (Omolade 1987; bell hooks 1994). Feminist pedagogies ask critical questions about education such as ‘Who are we teaching and what can we learn from them? What should one learn so that they can challenge injustice in their lived experiences and communities? How can the environment of education help challenge oppressive political structures and cultural norms rather than conform to them?’ (bell hooks 1994 & 2010).
Feminist pedagogies for games in particular then, explore how such questions manifest in relation to the content, practices, and culture of gaming and game design/development. For example, they could examine ways of teaching game design that integrate students’ cultural backgrounds and experiences, rather than dismiss them (Ladson-Billings 1995). Or they could explore how games courses/curricula can be (re)-designed to centre the inherently political nature of game design, development, and analysis. Or, more broadly, they could focus on what administrators in universities can do to prevent gatekeeping people of colour from careers in game development. While such a diverse set of examples illustrates the broad scope of feminist pedagogies, it also exemplifies their common goal—making the intersections of games and education more just, inclusive, and democratic. The goal of this special section is to invite inquiry into such intersections and illuminate pathways for all people affiliated with educational institutes to integrate feminist pedagogies into practice.
We are looking for submissions that explore and engage with feminist pedagogy in games education in a wide variety of ways. This includes within the classroom context the entanglement of multiple elements, such as the nature of the course content (games by and for who, what is included in the syllabus etc), assignment design, classroom management techniques, and the level of explicit awareness of issues of power and oppression as threaded through games.
We also invite feminist institutional critique across the vertical institutions that make up education systems, from the level of the syllabus, discipline, to the school, to the policy makers and larger culture, as well as pieces focused on the need to legitimise feminist pedagogies within institutions where it is not considered so.
We are open to submissions that explore all levels of engagement of feminist pedagogies in games education, and the internal and external factors that contribute to and interact with these pedagogies including governmental regulation, curricular structures, individual classrooms, and work environments. We also welcome submissions of reprints in translation to English, which make accessible to an English-reading audience research initially published in other languages.
Submissions are welcome from the student perspective, including graduate student research. We encourage creativity and are open to research and work in all formats, including course syllabi and assignments, student reflections regarding feminist pedagogy, and actual games developed as a result of learning in a feminist pedagogy experience. We are seeking submissions that explore the use of feminist pedagogy with all types of games education, including digital, analog, and physical games. Please see the list below for examples of themes and topics for proposals:
- Both the content (what is taught) and the method of teaching (how it is taught) can be feminist
- Case studies of experiments using feminist and critical pedagogies in teaching games and game design
- Speculative designs for curricular structures that centre feminist approaches to teaching games
- Lessons learned from institutional processes working to implement feminist pedagogical innovations in games
- Reflections on teaching with critical and feminist pedagogy methods in game design at any level (i.e., elementary school, university, life-long learning)
- Discussion of tensions between feminist approaches to teaching in games and more dominant game-based learning methods such as gamification
- Manifestos or creative calls to action for feminist teaching in games
- Student reflections on working to centre inclusion in the game design process
- Student reflections on the current state of feminist and critical pedagogies in game design programs
- Toolkits, methods, and instruction for educators in how to implement feminist methods in teaching games
- Teaching normcriticism through edu-larp
- Comparative studies looking at how feminism is present in different governmental regulations for education and what this means for game design programs.
- Analysis of how outside influences and external stakeholders interact with and affect feminist pedagogies in games education
- Cross-cultural examples of feminist pedagogy in games education
- Call for action to bring feminist pedagogies to the centre of games education vs. being in the margins
- Navigating resistance amongst students and colleagues when utilising feminist and critical pedagogies in games education
- Identifying the feminist potentials of the games medium for teaching
- Syllabi, lesson plans, and assignment and assessment designs that demonstrate integration of feminist methods in teaching games
- Games that explicitly want to teach feminist approaches to games, to be published alongside a designer’s statement reflecting on the design process, influences and outcomes
- LARP materials that share about LARP designs that explicitly center feminist and critical methods, and/or issues of power, oppression and inclusion
Rebecca Rouse (Rebecca.Rouse@his.se)
Aditya Anupam (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Josefin Westborg (Josefin.Westborg@speldeisgn.uu.se)
Amy Corron Youmans (email@example.com)
- Abstracts of max. 300 words, not including references
- Reference list with a minimum of three references
- 100-word bio for each author
31 March 2023: Proposal Deadline
May-June 2023: Acceptance/Rejection Notice
January 2024: Full Articles Deadline
Please submit your proposal online: https://forms.gle/uvARKkZMk76Gpu5DA
Ahmad, Sara (2017), Living a Feminist Life, Durham: Duke University Press.
Chess, Shira (2020), Play like a Feminist, Cambridge: MIT Press.
Corron, Amy & Rebecca Rouse (2022), Game over: The Perils of Framing Feminist Game Design Pedagogy as Repair versus Transformation. Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 1-26.
DePass, Tanya (ed.) (2018), Game Devs & Others: Tales from the Margins, CRC Press.
Fullerton, Tracy (2014), Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Gamesm New York: CRC press.
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hooks, bell (1994), Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, New York: Routledge.
hooks, bell (2010), Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom, New York: Routledge.
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Kocurek, Carly (2016), ‘Identities’, in Henry Lowood & Raiford Guins (eds.), Debugging Game History: A Critical Lexicon, Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 237-246.
Ladson-Billings, Gloria (1995), ‘Toward a Theory of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy’, American Educational Research Journa, Vol. 32, No, 3: 465. doi:10.2307/1163320, (last accessed 20 December 2022).
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Paechter, Carrie (2002), Educating the other: Gender, Power and Schooling, London & New York: Routledge.
Rouse, Rebecca & Amy Corron Youmans (2022), ‘When Everyone Wins: Dialogue, Play, and Black History for Critical Games Education’, Media and Communication, Vol. 10, No. 4.
Salen, Katie & Eric Zimmerman (2003), Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, Cambridge: MIT press.
Sarkeesian, Anita & Katherine Cross (2015), ‘Your Humanity is in Another Castle: Terror Dreams and the Harassment of Women, The state of Play: Creators and Critics on Video Game Culture, New York: Seven Stories Press, pp. 103-126.
Schell, Jesse (2008), The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, CRC press.
Westborg, Josefin (2016), ’Alfa/Omega’, in Särkijärvi, Jukka, Mika Loponen, & Kaisa Kangas (eds.), Larp Realia, Knutepunkt Books,pp. 17-23.
Alfa/Omega (2012) LajvVerkstaden. https://lajvverkstaden.se/produkt/alfa-omega/ (last accessed 20 December 2022).
Brudpris (2013) Anna-Karin Linder & Carolina Dahlberg. https://nordiclarp.org/wiki/Brudpris (last accessed 20 December 2022).
Dot’s Home (2021) Rise-Home Stories. https://risehomestories.com/dots-home/home/ (last accessed 20 December 2022).
Dys4ia (2012) Anna Anthropy. https://freegames.org/dys4ia/ (last accessed 20 December 2022).
Gone Home (2013) Steve Gaynor. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gone_Home (last accessed 20 December 2022).
Hair Nah (2017) Momo Pixel. https://www.momopixel.com/hair-nah (last accessed 20 December 2022).
#feminism (2016) Lizzie Stark, Anna Westerling, Misha Bushyager, & Shuo Meng. https://nordiclarp.org/wiki/Feminism:_A_Nano-Game_Anthology (last accessed 20 December 2022).
Mad About the Boy (2010) Tor Kjetil Edland, Margrete Raaum, & Trine Lise Lindahl. https://nordiclarp.org/wiki/Mad_About_the_Boy#:~:text=Mad%20about%20the%20Boy%20is,the%20possible%20extinction%20of%20humanity. (last accessed 20 December 2022).
Variations on Your Body (2014) Avery Alder. https://buriedwithoutceremony.com/variations-on-your-body (last accessed 20 December 2022).
WHO SUPPORTS US
The team of MAI supporters and contributors is always expanding. We’re honoured to have a specialist collective of editors, whose enthusiasm & talent gave birth to MAI.
However, to turn our MAI dream into reality, we also relied on assistance from high-quality experts in web design, development and photography. Here we’d like to acknowledge their hard work and commitment to the feminist cause. Our feminist ‘thank you’ goes to:
Dots+Circles – a digital agency determined to make a difference, who’ve designed and built our MAI website. Their continuous support became a digital catalyst to our idealistic project.
Guy Martin – an award-winning and widely published British photographer who’s kindly agreed to share his images with our readers
Chandler Jernigan – a talented young American photographer whose portraits hugely enriched the visuals of MAI website
Matt Gillespie – a gifted professional British photographer who with no hesitation gave us permission to use some of his work
Julia Carbonell – an emerging Spanish photographer whose sharp outlook at contemporary women grasped our feminist attention
Ana Pedreira – a self-taught Portuguese photographer whose imagery from women protests beams with feminist aura
And other photographers whose images have been reproduced here: Cezanne Ali, Les Anderson, Mike Wilson, Annie Spratt, Cristian Newman, Peter Hershey